I’m Not Sure I Ever Want to go Home by Amy Sked

I never really understood how people could claim to have ‘fallen in love’ with a country- I totally get it now. It’s kind of an insane feeling actually, full of overwhelming new things and experiences that somehow just feel RIGHT.

Ah man, I’m not sure I ever want to go home.

Things in this project are pretty much perfect for me- we’re about 20 minutes drive from Cape Town (which might be the most amazing city ever, by the way) I live with about 35 other international volunteers here at the Children’s Home and the work is so varied and interesting. We volunteers end up involved in all sorts of different work here- dayshift and nightshift in the houses with the children, work assisting in the offices with staff, fundraising, organising special events for the kids as well as forming teams when we need to take on the mammoth task of organising the major holidays (Christmas and Easter) for our 144 children! No mean feat, I can tell you!

As well as this, I have also worked in the CHILLI unit which is an intensive therapy programme designed for the more challenging children who are in need of more attention and a specialised programme for their needs. The children move out of their usual houses and into the CHILLI unit for six weeks where they are given individual therapy and group therapy as well as travelling to specialists to enjoy things like horse and massage therapy. There is also a behavioural modification programme in place in the unit which includes a points system where the children can gain points and rewards for good behaviour and lose points for negative behaviour. That really was amazing work for me as I now know that I would like to continue working with challenging children when I get home and am looking into the possibility of studying as a social worker. To that end, I am now also assisting in the office of the social worker who is in charge of the CHILLI unit and of our Happy Feet programme which is for our children aged between 4 and 10.

Despite work sometimes being crazy, our kids really are amazing. We have no orphans here, all of our children are placed here by the court because they have experienced some form of abuse. Whether it is physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse or whether they have been neglected all of our kids have had an incredibly difficult time at some point in their past. To hear about some of the things they have been through and then to see them still wanting to connect with us, being open to friendships and sometimes being so totally charming, cute or thoughtful is more than enough to forgive them for their mistakes, bad behaviour or occasional insults.

That’s not to say we don’t get time off though- it’s been great getting a chance to explore Cape Town and all it has to offer. It’s really a very multi-cultural and vibrant place. We’ve also had the chance to go to several braai’s – this is basically a South African BBQ but on a totally different level. There’s a really great atmosphere and they’ve also been a chance for us to really see how welcoming people here are. Several times we’ve been invitied to braai’s they’ve been located in Townships here which was so interesting. It’s somehow surprising to see that people in a supposedly developed country are still living in such poverty while other’s are living unbelievably luxuriously.

You know, it’s much harder than I imagined to think of home when I really feel like I belong here. It’s difficult to think about what will be interesting to tell people from home when this feel like normality now.

But for now, I’ll leave you with this- I absolutely love it here. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who supported me and helped me to get to South Africa. It’s the experience of a lifetime and at the moment, for me, certainly beats slaving over essays and course work in